5 BEST National Parks for Wildlife Experiences
I’ve trekked National Parks the world over and not one has disappointed me. Through the U.S.A’s Zion, Yellow Stone and The Grand Canyon to Peru’s Tambopata Amazon rainforest, the earth is teaming with spectacular natural wonders preserved by National Parks.
If you love animals as much as I do, be sure to add at least one of these once-in-a-life-time National Parks to your wander list today!
Chobe Botswana, Southern Africa
Spotting the Big 5, which means an up close and personal view of an African lion, Black rhinoceros, Cape Buffalo, African elephant and African leopard, can be checked off in Chobe. Camping just outside the park, we slept on the roof of our self-built overland truck. It was doggone hard to sleep with all of the chirping, snorting, rustling and glowing eyes in the bushes around us in the ebony night, but a slumber party rarely gets more exciting. The howling echo of encroaching hyenas grew louder and louder until we had been sniffed out and encircled in our camp.
Chitwan Nepal, Asia
Dive into the dripping wet, entangled jungle one of Asia’s most precious wildlife parks. We overnighted on the riverside then drifted down the river by dugout canoe in search of crocodiles. We loaded ourselves onto elephant back and were thrilled to spot the rare one-horned rhinos. And if you’re lucky enough, like my husband Kees, you’ll come face to face with Shere Khan, tiger king of the jungle, as you bath in the fast flowing river. As the stars popped out overhead I sipped chilled fruit juice and watched the mango sun slipping into bed.
Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Rwanda, Eastern Africa
If sticky sweat, trekking through dense foliage, adventure with a capital A and huge furry monkeys don’t scare you, become Tarzan for a day in Bwindi. Perhaps one of the rarest wildlife experiences on earth, Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is certainly worth the effort. Hike deep into the rainforest with mandatory armed rangers to discover wild troops of mountain gorillas. The park boasts 340 gorillas, making up half of the world’s endangered population of these magnificent gorillas. Unbelievably, this is a tourist attraction. The adults seem unfazed by your presence, the youngsters all too eagerly tug at your socks, their curiosity often leading the dominant male silverback to be watchfully on guard. A powerless and remarkable feeling.
Banff Canada, North America
Those of you who live in Canada claim the incredible mountainous landscape of Banff for your own. It’s bursting with splashing waterfalls, reflective lakes and undeniably some of Mother Nature’s cutest, most dangerous and graceful creatures. Wolves, cougars and The Rocky Mountains themselves will stop you in your tracks. It is a powerful landscape, but it is the black bears and grizzlies forcing you to yield as they cross the road with their spring cubs, that is so photo worthy. You will be blown away by the majestic elk pressing their noses through your open window and big horn sheep giving your dirty car a lick-wash as they savor the natural salt on your tires.
South Luangwa Zambia, Eastern Africa
Flatdogs Camp situated, just outside Zambia’s South Luangwa National Park, is the best location to pitch a tent on platforms in the trees. If you’re one of the braver, “I left my brain at home” ones, like me and my brother, Ammon, you’ll camp on the ground and hear hippos munching on flower pedals just inches from your head as you try to sleep. Sleeping with wild game is certainly no game, as armed guards are always on duty and ready in a moment to escort you to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You’ll have a coffee-sipping experience your friends will never believe, watching giraffes breakfasting on leaves and elephants with their calves strolling right past your picnic table.
To learn more about great National Parks from travellers around the world, don’t miss today’s “The Road Less Travelled” Twitter chat at 1pmNYC/6pmUK. Join the chat and share your own experiences and travels to national parks. Search the hashtag #TRLT to find us and don’t forget to include the hashtag #TRLT in your tweets to participate with fellow travellers! Inspire and be inspired. You can find me each and every week hosting with my fellow travellers Shane Dallas (public speaker, visited 100+ countries), Jessica Lipowski (accomplished author and “foodie”) and Anton Magnin (specialist in family travel).
Until next week, where I’ll be sharing one of my most authentic travel experiences.